In the News

Category archives for In the News

On the Steering of Sleds

In the previous post about luge, I mentioned that there was one thing that came up when Rhett and I were talking about this, namely why there are differences in times between racers. The toy physics model I set up last time suggests that the difference between riders is only a matter of aerodynamics– two…

The Physics of Crazy Sleds

In the Uncertain Dots hangout the other day, Rhett and I went off on a tangent about the physics of the Olympics, specifically the luge. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s basically psycho sledding: people riding tiny little sleds down a curved track at 80mph. The “featured image” above shows Erin Hamlin of the…

Small College, Exotic Particles

Topping the looooong list of things I would give a full ResearchBlogging write-up if I had time is this new paper on a ultra-cold atom realization of “Dirac Monopoles”. This is really cool stuff, but there are a lot of intricacies that I don’t fully understand, so writing it up isn’t a simple matter. The…

Finding That There’s Nothing to Find

In 1967, a team of scientists hauled a big pile of gear– electronics, particle detectors, a giant slab of iron– into the burial chamber at the base of one of the pyramids at Giza. This sounds like a scene from a science fiction or fantasy novel– throw in the fact that their first attempt was…

Men, Women, and Graduation Statistics

There was a great big New York Times article on women in science this week, which prompted no end of discussion. (I also highly recommend Bee’s response at Backreaction.) It’s built around the personal story of the author, Eileen Pollack, a physics major at Yale who decided not to go to grad school, and her…

One of the great things about “Fermi Problems” is that there are multiple ways of attacking them. So, for example, when considering the death ray plot yesterday, I used medical devices as an example system to assess the plausibility of the plot, while Physics Buzz talked total energy. But those aren’t the only ways to…

On “Death Rays”

One bad thing about SteelyKid’s preschool graduation yesterday was that it drained my phone battery, causing me to miss an interview request from a local TV station looking for somebody to talk about a a couple of local guys arrested for a plot to build a “death ray” from X-ray components. This is pretty far…

One of the reasons I held off on commenting on the whole E. O. Wilson math op-ed thing, other than not having time to blog, was that his comments were based on his own experiences. And, you know, who am I to gainsay the personal experiences of a justly famous scientist? At the same time,…

One of the hot topics of the moment is the E. O. Wilson op-ed lamenting the way math scares students off from science, and downplaying the need for mathematical skill (this is not news, really– he said more or less the same thing a few years ago, but the Wall Street Journal published it to…

On Twitter and blogs, we’re having another round of complaints about sensationalism and hype in science stories– Matthew Francis and Gabrielle Rabinowitz are the latest to cross my social media feeds. I’ve also seen some stories recently (that I’m too lazy to dig up) complaining about the latest Higgs Boson stuff, and I’m sure if…